Suddenlink makes aggressive move with Digital 395 bandwidth

Suddenlink takes the Digital 395 pole position.

No longer constrained by severely limited backhaul capacity, Suddenlink has cranked up Internet speeds for its customers in Mammoth Lakes and is planning to do the same in the other eastern California communities it serves. Customers with service plans that delivered 1.5 to 3 Mbps are now getting 15 Mbps at no extra cost, and can upgrade to a 30 Mbps tier if they want. That’s according to Jason Oelkers, Suddenlink’s California system manager, speaking today at the Eastern Sierra Connect Regional Broadband Consortium annual forum in Bishop, which sits astride the route.

The increased speeds are made possible by the Digital 395 middle mile project, which stretches from Reno and Carson City in Nevada, south through Mono, Inyo and eastern Kern counties to Barstow, generally paralleling U.S. highway 395. Other ISPs in the region, including Schat, Lone Pine TV and IWVISP, are scrambling to do the same.

Now that the California Public Utilities Commission has given the project an extra $10 million, work is underway to complete the final nine mile gap between the northern and southern halves of the system, and extend service to the town of June Lake. Other segments of the network will be finished as budget and environmental clearances allow.

“We are wrapping things up in terms of construction, my hope is November”, said Michael Ort, CEO of Praxis Associates and the project honcho, as he outlined plans for turning the network completely on. Completion of all planned extensions will depend on the same two challenges that have dogged the project since its beginning. “Our logic had everything to do with how we worked through the environmental process and the weather,” he said.

Tom Glegola, a senior regulatory analyst at CPUC, affirmed that commitment. “Digital 395 will be complete,” he said. “The commission did see to it. For the same reasons that the commission approved it in the first place: it’s going to make a massive impact in this region.”

Thanks to Suddenlink’s fast grab of a market opportunity, it already has.